With the recent launch of the Xbox One, gamers (including me) are crying foul of Microsoft’s alienation of Xbox 360 owners by excluding backwards compatibility. But is playing older games really that important?
After the launch hype subsided, we dissected Microsoft’s latest console and explained all you need to know about the Xbox One.
However, critics have pulled apart every aspect of the Xbox One launch; from the lack of games shown, to the muddied details about backwards compatibility and the ability to play pre-owned games.
How Microsoft handles these issues will surely determine whether I, and many others, will choose to upgrade to its latest console.
Is this backwards thinking?
The Xbox One appears to be focused on becoming an all-in-one entertainment box that rules your living room, rather than a dedicated gaming machine. And playing games is what consoles are all about, right? But what if you can’t play your existing games because they’re not supported?
Backwards compatibility means you can play any games or access any content from the previous generation gaming device. A great example is the PlayStation 2. Not only does it support games from the original PlayStation, but it also allows you to use original PlayStation accessories, such as memory cards and controllers.
The new Xbox One on the other hand, won’t support Xbox 360 games (discs or digital downloads) or accessories. The Xbox 360’s hardware is completely different to the Xbox One, so even though the new console is more powerful, running games developed for the Xbox 360 wouldn’t be possible without some serious investment from Microsoft.
Still, it annoys me that this option has been removed. I have no say in the matter. I suppose I could suck it up and have both consoles sat side-by-side. But not everyone has the shelf space or multiple AV ports to support this setup, and I think it’s unfair to expect this of gaming fans.
According to Microsoft, only 5% of players use new consoles to play games from the previous generation. And, in a recent interview, president of Microsoft’s Xbox division Don Mattrick said, ‘If you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards’. So it seems the lack of compatibility doesn’t just stem from the Xbox 360’s different hardware – Microsoft doesn’t appear to believe that many people will use it.
Moving forwards, not backwards
The situation with Sony’s PS4 is slightly different. It won’t be backwards compatible with PS, PS2 or PS3 titles, but cloud-based gaming company Gaikai could offer a service that allows you to stream old PlayStation games on your PS4. However, questions still remain about how much you’d have to pay (if anything) for streaming or downloading your old games.
Despite going for a wider appeal and targeting a broader audience, it will be interesting to see if Microsoft succeeds with its all-in-one vision. As it stands, I won’t be buying an Xbox One when it launches later this year. I don’t like being told what games I can and cannot play.
Is backwards compatibility a deal-breaker for you? If you were head of Microsoft’s gaming division, how would you approach the problem?
Would the lack of backwards compatibility put you off the Xbox One or PS4?
Yes (62%, 211 Votes)
No (27%, 90 Votes)
I'm not sure (11%, 37 Votes)
Total Voters: 338